500.C115 Paris/10–2645: Telegram

The Ambassador in France ( Caffery ) to the Secretary of State

6229. For State and Labor from ILO delegation. In Committee on Constitutional Questions, Forbes-Watson 44 moved this afternoon deletion of last sentence in article 13, pages 157 and 158 Office report [Page 1552] reading “provided that no amendment to articles 19 or 35 shall operate to place a new obligation on any member of the organization without the consent of that member”. The amendment was strongly supported without a dissenting voice by govt employer and labor speakers including the British Govt delegate. American employer and labor delegates concurred.

Goodrich speaking for US Govt stated that he had no instructions on this point. He pointed out that if any attempt should ever be made, in case the proposed amendment was accepted, to change the ILO Constitution without the consent of the US in such way as to effect US rights under the US Constitution such an attempt would be likely to result in American withdrawal from the ILO. He assumed that no such attempt would be made. He therefore would not oppose the Forbes-Watson amendment but neither could he support it.

Thereupon, Phelan 45 in line with Forbes-Watson motion withdrew the passage quoted above and article 13 was voted as follows “amendments to this constitution which are adopted by the Conference by a majority of two-thirds of the votes cast by the delegates present shall take effect when ratified or accepted by two-thirds of the members of the organization including five of the eight members which are represented on the Governing Body as members of chief industrial importance in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 3 of article 17 of this constitution”.

In case the Dept should object to the stand taken by Goodrich, the matter could be reopened in Plenary Session when the report of the Constitutional Committee is submitted but such a course would cause substantial difficulties and the US delegate would be likely to find himself almost completely isolated. We do not propose to make any further move in this matter unless instructed by the Dept. [ILO delegation.]

  1. Sir John Forbes Watson, United Kingdom Representative of the Employers to the Twenty-Seventh Session of the International Labor Conference.
  2. Edward J. Phelan, Acting Director of the International Labor Office.